American Sports

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American football

The NFL’s New England Patriots vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Football has the most participants of any sport at both high school and college levels, the vast majority of its participants being male

The NFL is the preeminent professional football league in the United States. The NFL has 32 franchises divided into two conferences.

After a 17-game regular season, each conference sends seven teams to the NFL Playoffs, which eventually culminate in the league’s championship game, the Super Bowl.

Nationwide, the NFL obtains the highest television ratings among major sports. Watching NFL games on television on Sunday afternoons has become a common routine for many Americans during the football season. Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest annual sporting event held in the United States. The Super Bowl itself is always among the highest-rated programs of all time in the Nielsen ratings.

The NFL has the highest average attendance (67,591) of any professional sports league in the world and has the highest revenue out of any single professional sports league.

Millions watch college football throughout the fall months, and some communities, particularly in rural areas, place great emphasis on their local high school football teams.

The popularity of college and high school football in areas such as the Southern United States (Southeastern Conference) and the Great Plains (Big 12 Conference and Big Ten Conference) stems largely from the fact that these areas historically generally did not possess markets large enough for a professional team.

Nonetheless, college football has a rich history in the United States, predating the NFL by decades, and fans and alumni are generally very passionate about their teams.

During football season in the fall, fans have the opportunity to watch high school games on Fridays and Saturdays, college football on Saturdays, and NFL games on Sundays, the usual playing day of the professional teams.

However, some colleges play games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, while the NFL offers weekly games on Monday (since 1970) and Thursday (since 2006).

As recently as 2013, one could find a nationally televised professional or college game on television any night between Labor Day and Thanksgiving weekend.

The Cowboys playing against the Broncos in Super Bowl XII.

Indoor football or arena football, a form of football played in indoor arenas, has several professional and semi-professional leagues.

The Arena Football League was active from 1987 to 2008 and folded in 2009, but several teams from the AFL and its former minor league, af2, relaunched the league in 2010. The AFL folded again in 2019. Most extant indoor leagues date to the mid-2000s and are regional.

Dedicated women’s football is seldom seen. A few amateur and semi-professional leagues exist, of varying degrees of stability and competition. Football is unique among scholastic sports in the U.S. in that no women’s division exists for the sport; women who wish to play football in high school or college must compete directly with men.

Baseball

Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees centerfielder, in 1953.

Baseball and a variant, softball, are popular participatory sports in the U.S. Baseball was the first professional sport in the United States. The highest level of baseball in the U.S. and the world is Major League Baseball. The World Series of Major League Baseball is the culmination of the sport’s postseason each October.

It is played between the winner of each of the two leagues, the American League and the National League, and the winner is determined through a best-of-seven playoff.

Ted Williams in 1947

The New York Yankees are noted for having won more titles than any other US major professional sports franchise.

The Yankees’ chief rivals, the Boston Red Sox, also enjoy a huge following in Boston and throughout New England.

The Philadelphia Phillies of the National League are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of the professional American sports, and enjoy a fanbase renowned for their rabid support of their team throughout Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, and have famously been dubbed as the “Meanest Fans in America”.

Midwest baseball has also grown exponentially with teams like the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and Cincinnati Reds.

Particularly with Chicago sports fans who avidly follow the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox despite the comparative lack of success for the teams, with Chicago Cub fans being known throughout the country as one of the best baseball fans in the country, most notably for their passionate loyalty to the team despite their not having won a championship from 1908 to 2016 (108 years) which stands as the longest championship drought in US sports history. The sport has also taken hold of fans on the West Coast, most notably the rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and The Los Angeles Dodgers.

Historically, the leagues were much more competitive, and cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, and St. Louis had rival teams in both leagues up until the 1950s.

Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era.

Notable American baseball players in history include Babe Ruth (714 career home runs), Ty Cobb (career leader in batting average and batting titles), Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams (.344 career batting average), Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle (16-time all-star), Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra (18-time All-Star), Hank Aaron (career home run leader from 1974 to 2007), Mike Schmidt (548 career home runs, 10 career Gold Gloves), Nolan Ryan (career strikeouts leader), Roger Clemens (7 Cy Young awards), Derek Jeter and Jackie Robinson, who was instrumental in dissolving the color line and allowing African-Americans into the major leagues.

Babe Ruth in 1918. He achieved his greatest fame as a home run batter for the New York Yankees.

An extensive minor league baseball system covers most mid-sized cities in the United States.

Minor league baseball teams are organized in a six-tier hierarchy, in which the highest teams (AAA) are in major cities that do not have a major league team but often have a major team in another sport, and each level occupies progressively smaller cities.

The lowest levels of professional baseball serve primarily as development systems for the sport’s most inexperienced prospects, with the absolute bottom, the rookie leagues, occupying the major league squads’ spring training complexes.

Some limited independent professional baseball exists, the most prominent being the Atlantic League, which occupies mostly suburban locales that are not eligible for high-level minor league teams of their own because they are too close to other major or minor league teams.

Outside the minor leagues are collegiate summer baseball leagues, which occupy towns even smaller than those at the lower end of minor league baseball and typically cannot support professional sports.

Summer baseball is an amateur exercise and uses players that choose not to play for payment to remain eligible to play college baseball for their respective universities in the spring.

At the absolute lowest end of the organized baseball system is senior amateur baseball (also known as Town Team Baseball), which typically plays its games only on weekends and uses rosters composed of residents.

Liga de BĂ©isbol Profesional Roberto Clemente is a professional baseball league in Puerto Rico.

Basketball

Basketball in the United States

Of those Americans citing their favorite sport, basketball is ranked second (counting amateur levels) behind football. However, in regards to revenue, the NBA is ranked third in popularity.

More Americans play basketball than any other team sport, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, with over 26 million Americans playing basketball. Basketball was invented in 1891 by Canadian physical education teacher James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson 1997

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the world’s premier professional basketball league and one of the major professional sports leagues of North America.

It contains 30 teams (29 teams in the U.S. and 1 in Canada) that play an 82-game season from October to June. After the regular season, eight teams from each conference compete in the playoffs for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

Since the 1992 Summer Olympics, NBA players have represented the United States in international competitions and won numerous important tournaments.

The Dream Team was the unofficial nickname of the United States men’s basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics.

Basketball at both the college and high school levels is popular throughout the country.

Every March, a 68-team, six-round, single-elimination tournament (commonly called March Madness) determines the national champions of NCAA Division I men’s college basketball.

Most U.S. states also crown state champions among their high schools. Many high school basketball teams have intense local followings, especially in the Midwest and Upper South.[citation needed]> Indiana has 10 of the 12 largest high school gyms in the United States, and is famous for its basketball passion, known as Hoosier Hysteria.

Many players and analysts have called Stephen Curry the greatest shooter in NBA history.

Notable NBA players in history include Wilt Chamberlain (4 time MVP), Bill Russell (5 time MVP), Bob Pettit (11 times all NBA team), Bob Cousy (12 times all NBA team), Jerry West (12 times all NBA team), Julius Erving (won MVP awards in both the ABA and NBA), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6 time MVP), Magic Johnson (3 time MVP), Larry Bird (3 time MVP), Michael Jordan (6-time finals MVP), John Stockton (#1 in career assists and steals), Karl Malone (14 times all NBA team), Kobe Bryant (NBA’s third all-time leading scorer), Tim Duncan (15-time NBA all-star), Shaquille O’Neal (3-time finals MVP) and Jason Kidd (#2 in career assists and steals).

Notable players in the NBA today include James Harden, LeBron James (4 MVP awards), Stephen Curry (2 time MVP), and Kevin Durant (MVP, 4 NBA scoring titles).

Ever since the 1990s, an increasing number of players born outside the United States have signed with NBA teams, sparking league interest in different parts of the world.

Sue Bird, a member of the All-Decade and Top 15 teams from the WNBA.

Professional basketball is most followed in cities where there are no other sports teams in the four major professional leagues, such as in the case of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Sacramento Kings, the San Antonio Spurs, the Memphis Grizzlies, or the Portland Trail Blazers.

New York City has also had a long historical connection with the college and professional basketball, and many basketball legends initially developed their reputations playing in the many playgrounds throughout the city. Madison Square Garden, the home arena of the New York Knicks, is often referred to as the “Mecca of basketball.”

Minor league basketball, both official and unofficial, has an extensive presence, given the sport’s relative lack of expense to operate a professional team.

The NBA has an official minor league, known since 2017 as the NBA G League under a naming rights agreement with Gatorade. The most prominent independent league is BIG3, a three-on-three league featuring former NBA stars that launched in 2017. Several other pro basketball leagues exist but are notorious for their instability and low-budget operations.

The WNBA is the premier women’s basketball league in the United States as well as the most stable and sustained women’s professional sports league in the nation. Several of the 12 teams are owned by NBA teams. The women’s national team has won eight Olympic gold medals and 10 FIBA World Cups.

Historically, women’s basketball in the United States followed a six-woman-per-team format in which three players on each team stayed on the same side of the court throughout the game.

The six-person variant was abolished for college play in 1971, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s was steadily abolished at the high school level, with the last states still sanctioning it switching girls over to the men’s five-on-five code in the mid-1990s.

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